The end of the story
Just so you get "both sides" of the story, the Department of Defense has a dedicated webpage which lists out what it thinks are mistakes in media coverage of defense issues, including the occasions it has written a letter to the editor pointing out mistakes which the media outlet refused to publish. (hat tip: Strategy Page)
Just now, the Washington Post reports that VP Dick Cheney’s remarks on a radio interview have prompted criticism that he condones torture. “Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” Hennen asked. “Well, it’s a no-brainer for me,” Cheney said, “but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in.” Andrew Sullivan says, “Lies; lies, and more lies. … It is a civic responsibility. Vote Democrat or abstain.” Mrs. Cheney denied that what VP Dick Cheney said was what Andrew Sullivan didn't hear. According to Reuters:
The wife of Vice President Dick Cheney leaped to his defense on Friday after he was accused of endorsing simulated drowning by saying a "dunk in water" for terrorism suspects might be useful. "This is complete distortion. He didn't say anything of the kind," Lynne Cheney told CNN's "The Situation Room" when asked if Cheney was endorsing "water boarding," an interrogation technique some human rights advocates consider torture.
We are well on the way to a world where everyone has his "own truth" and where nothing needs to make sense. Consider Hennen's question: “Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” Of course he didn't really mean "a dunk in the water". We all know Hennen meant water-boarding, don't we. And Dick Cheney's reply "Well, it’s a no-brainer for me. We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in," really means that he wants to torture someone but can't bring himself to admit it. Whatever Cheney did mean it is obvious that whatever he said makes no difference whatsoever. If he said he was going to torture somebody that would be true. If he said he wasn't going to torture anyone that would be untrue. The point being that in certain areas of public discourse the discussion is closed.
It's interesting to consider what the reaction would have been if Cheney had said, "No I don't agree that saving lives is worth a dunk in the water. Even if I could save a thousand lives I would never dunk anyone in the water or waterboard them either." How many people would then accuse Cheney of abdicating his responsibility to defend the country. How many people, including pacifists, would actually say that even if they could save a thousand lives they wouldn't lay a hand on an al-Qaeda suspect? Even if that's what they think. Because we know that's what they think, just as Andrew Sullivan knows Cheney's mind. Or have we run ourselves into a complete circle?
The closing of public debate is illustrated by the DOD's request to challenge a Newsweek article (which was denied). So now you have to go the DOD website to get that side of the story, if you think it is worth getting, that Newsweek printed, if you think that's worth reading.
Oct. 20, 2006 —In response to a Newsweek article on Afghanistan (“The Rise of Jihadistan,” October 2, 2006), the Department of Defense sent Newsweek a lengthy rebuttal of points of fact and opinion, as well as a request for an “opportunity to submit a stand-alone column that not only rebuts some of the more sensational charges, but offers your readers a clearer view of the very real challenges we face in Afghanistan—as well as the many achievements of the past five years.”
Newsweek dismissed the rebuttal as the “government position,” as well as the request for a stand-alone column. The Pentagon’s response to that letter read in part: “First, a ‘concise’ letter to the editor, of say, 200 words, cannot adequately address an [sic] 2200-word article containing a series of false assertions. Second, the issue is not Newsweek’s position versus the ‘government position.’ The issue is that your readers were given a one-sided, opinion-laced article on Afghanistan based on falsehoods—which is something that journalists and editors are usually concerned about. Your dismissive reply is disappointing, to say the least.”
"Lies; lies, and more lies." But whose?